Creativity is at the core of my well-being. Years ago, feeling depressed and with a sense of something missing, I visited with my minister. After some conversation, she asked a life-changing question: “What was the last time you did something with your hands?” Surprised, I thought about, and realized I couldn’t recall the last time. I used to make jewelry, but I hadn’t in years. There was a new bead shop in town, and it had caught my eye, but I had yet to visit it. She suggested I go there, and make something for someone else.
I did exactly that, making a pair of bracelets for a couple in my congregation. It was a wonderful experience making them and gifting them. I soon found myself visiting the store more and more often. I dug out old jewelry tools and learned new techniques. I even participated in a few shows at the store, and was their featured artist for a month. I had found what was missing.
Eventually, the everyday demands of life took over again, and I spent less and less time making jewelry. Again, something was missing. This time, I rediscovered it during a workshop at a weeklong retreat. When I signed up for the workshop, “The Art of Happiness”, I looked guiltily at the workshops I felt I “should” take, one on leadership, one on social media. I set that aside, and reminded myself that you can’t draw water from an empty well, and my well felt pretty dry.
That week was glorious. I spent as much time as I could in the workshop room, at my table, creating. I had forgotten how much joy I found in it, how meditative it was, how the hours flew by. I came home determined to keep this spirit alive in my day to day life, to make room for creating. I went to the craft store and bought tools and paints similar to what we had used in the workshop. For the next year, they sat on a shelf next to my abandoned jewelry making supplies, gathering dust. The excuses piled up as well – I had no time, no space.
But, the third time is the charm, as they say. Finally, I broke through all my inner voices saying “no” with a giant YES. I went into our spare bedroom, home to my husband’s (mostly abandoned) stamp collection, and carved out a small space for myself. I went to the store and bought a folding table to work on. I dug out my meager stash of supplies and started playing.
Soon, I found myself getting up early to play before work, and staying up late to create just a little longer. I loved the weekends, when I had big blocks of hours for creating. I joined Facebook groups for mixed media artists, and became a regular at my local Michaels. I cleaned more of the spare bedroom, and my husband (after some prodding) took charge of his stamp collection. Eventually, everything except my growing stash of art and craft supplies was out of the room. I had my own space to create in.
I still forget to create sometimes. There are occasions that I spend more time organizing stuff or reading crafty Facebook groups or browsing craft stores than I do creating. But I know now that the act of creation is my meditation when I am frazzled, my water when I am parched, my medicine when I am heartsick. When I return to creating, set pen to paper, pick up a brush, make a card, pull a print, I feel whole again.
There’s so much that could be said on this subject, and many different perspectives. Please visit the links below for some posts from my fellow creative folks.